News Wednesday, JUNE 28th, 2000

Those are the headlines and now the news in more detail:

Senators determined to take electoral law to court

A number of opposition Senators have said that unless the President takes action they themselves will take the narrowly-approved electoral law to the Constitutional Court. The president vetoed the new law on the grounds that it violates the country's electoral system by giving the stronger parties more power and marginalizing the influence of smaller parties on the Czech political scene. Jan Kasal, a senator for the Christian Democrats told newsmen the law was clearly unconstitutional and afforded grounds on which to file a complaint –but he added that he and other opposition senators were waiting to see whether the head of state himself would want to take the matter to court. This is the only way of fighting the law, Kasal said, since the Lower House is certain to overturn the President's veto. The law was pushed through by the governing Social Democrats and the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party who are currently allied by a power-sharing pact.

Greenpeace demonstrates against genetically modified foods

As Parliament opened a debate on a proposed amendment to the law on consumer products on Tuesday, Greenpeace activists took to the streets to demonstrate against genetically modified foods. " We don't want Frankenstein's food" read a banner which they unfurled on Charles Bridge. The activists claim that the proposed draft law is weaker than similar EU legislation and will give producers a chance to avoid acknowledging the presence of genetically modified additives. While consumers will know that the corn they are buying has been genetically modified they will not be told that the strawberry flavor in their yogurt or ice-cream comes from genetically modified bacteria, a Greenpeace activist pointed out. Greenpeace argues that the Czech market has not yet been flooded with genetically modified products and that a good law and public awareness may help to curb their presence in this country.

Horakova- homage

Leading Czech politicians have paid homage to the memory of Milada Horakova, a human rights activist and member of parliament, whom the communists accused of high treason and executed following a highly publicized political trial in the 50's. Horakova, who has been hailed as one of the bravest women of the twentieth century defended herself at the trial, refusing to bow to her tormentors during the endless hours of cross questioning and proclaiming her innocence of the spying charges leveled against her. Her execution on June 27th sent shock waves across Europe, and indeed the entire world.

More aid money for farmers

The government has earmarked an extra 50 million crowns to help alleviate the damage of this year's drought. Agriculture minister Jan Fencl told newsmen on Tuesday that there were now 200 million crowns in emergency aid at the ministry's disposal and that it was processing requests. Farmers from all parts of the country have been reporting extremely poor harvests, and the lack of home- grown vegetables has already made itself felt on the market.

Austria needs reassurance regarding Temelin's safety

Austria has requested to be allowed to participate in the final stage of the decision-making process relating to the Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia. The plant is expected to be put into operation in two months time, and it is already clear that the Czech government will do nothing to postpone the set- date. In a message to the Czech environment minister Milos Kuzvart, his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Molterer says it is of vital importance for Austria to be assured of adequate nuclear safety standards before the plant goes into trial-operation.

Finally, a look at the weather:

the cool weather should stay with us over the next 48 hours. Wednesday should bring cloudy skies and rain with day temps between 15 and 19 degs C. Thursday's will only climb one degree higher, but if all goes as expected we may see warmer weather over the weekend.